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“How could the Lord ask a father to sacrifice the life of his own son?” That’s the wrong question. At least, it’s a terrible place to stop. It is like objecting to a scene in a novel or film before the story or even the chapter has concluded. Abraham does not kill his son. The Lord’s messenger stops him. That episode ends rather with this oath from the Lord:
“[…] because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command.”
In other words, just by demonstrating that he was willing to put the Lord first, without actually having to surrender his most precious child in the end, Abraham’s faith and obedience without limit were rewarded without limit. Abraham’s love of God was unrivaled. By the incredible extent of that devotion, because he trusted in the Lord, we His descendants learned how trustworthy and loving the Lord proved to be.
But that’s not the end of the story either. A Christian cannot understand that episode without relating it to Jesus.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. —John 3:16
No one stopped that holocaust; that painful sacrifice. Whereas the Lord held Abraham back and protected Isaac in the end, God the Father offered His only begotten Son to sacrifice for our sake and fully endured those pains.
The immeasurable love God demanded from Abraham, knowing that price needn’t be paid, the Lord bestowed such love on all good people and paid the price because His own justice required it.
Ultimately, the story of Abraham and Isaac is less about Abraham’s faithfulness than about the love and faithfulness of God.
The Lord is our Creator and has dominion over all things. All that we have belongs to Him, including our lives and those of the people we cherish. To offer Him everything is only to offer what is due.
And yet His sacrifice for us is greater. What does He owe us except what He chooses to promise? Nothing. Yet the Lord surrendered His only Son to a lifetime of misunderstandings and loneliness, of abuses and doubts, to betrayal, torture, mockery, and execution.
God held back nothing, so great is His love. Isaac was spared because God is good. Jesus was not spared because humanity’s love is not so constant or so pure.
The Bible is a tragic love story. It gets dark at times. But every chapter leads to a wonderful finish. The end makes sense of the beginning.Published in